FIRST RESPONDER PROFILE
Macungie Ambulance paramedic Andrew Miller was drawn to his profession by “those who came to help me,” as he was growing up, suffering maybe more than his share of cuts and bruises “just being a kid.”
“As I was growing up, I spent a lot of time outside playing with other kids,” Miller said. “Just look at the scars and you’ll see I got banged up a lot. We did not grow up with video games or other electronic diversions. We played outside all the time and it was just a given that cuts and scrapes were inevitable.”
Miller grew up in Macungie through grade school before his family moved to California. While there, he said he had a lot of contact with first responders called to render him first aid.
He was so impressed with those responders that he joined the junior program of the Los Angeles County Fire Department as soon as he was old enough. He began his EMS training in California and decided that was the career he would pursue.
Returning to the Lehigh Valley at the end of 2011, Miller found his first job with the Macungie Ambulance Corps. He also joined the Lower Macungie Fire Department as a volunteer.
Having furthered his EMS training, Miller has advanced to paramedic and special operations coordinator with the corps.
He now spends dozens and dozens of his professional hours planning and coordinating non-ambulance activities across a wide range of disciplines. The other hundreds of professional hours are spent saving lives in the back of the corps’ ambulances.
Macungie Ambulance Corps has been earning a widespread reputation as a rehab squad that goes above and beyond just checking the vital signs and providing cold beverages for firefighters at extended scene operations.
“We go wherever we’re called for rehab services and provide whatever services we can to support firefighters and other first responders,” Miller said.
Their expanding reputation has taken them to several counties beyond their Lehigh County home territory. When responders were starting to suffer sun burn at a recent extended emergency scene, Macungie Ambulance made a special run for sunblock, Miller said. “That’s just not something we normally carry among our medical supplies.”
One of Miller’s most satisfying assignments was a drill last summer along Quarry Road in Lower Macungie Township, to test and train first responders as they were called to a mock high-casualty event involving a simulated bus accident.
“Seeing the teamwork displayed by police, fire police, firefighters, rescue workers and private concerns like Bieber bus company, and property owners, and food delivery workers, all who provided a part in the drill, was a great community response,” Miller said.
Macungie Ambulance Corps also has specialized equipment like a mobile operations vehicle and an all-terrain vehicle, which are put into service throughout the area – the latest being the day-long search in Salisbury Township last month for an elderly woman who went missing from an elder-care facility.
The all-terrain vehicle is also called on each year for the summer car shows in Macungie Park. “We can move patients and others much more effectively with the smaller vehicle than we could with an ambulance or other full-size emergency vehicle,” Miller said.
When they learn what he does for a living, some people are prone to ask, “What is the worst thing you’ve ever seen?” Miller prefers to relate some of the best things he has experienced.
“A few years ago,” he recalls, “an elderly gentleman collapsed at a Macungie car show and was in cardiac arrest. When he went down, the police, the show planners and our nearby ambulance crew just did everything right.”
Put on a piece equipment that performed automatic CPR, the patient was revived and fell back in arrest a number of times before his heart rhythm was restored. “Our reward was when he came up to us in subsequent years to thank us again and assure us he was still around,” Miller said.
Miller’s next big project is planning for the Lower Macungie Fire Department open house to be held Oct. 14 at the department’s Brandywine Station, along Sauerkraut Lane, next to Willow Lane Elementary School.
“It’s always heartwarming to see our community’s turnout for our first responders.” Miller said. “Just like working here at Macungie Ambulance, it feels like family.”